Mood as a barometer of our relationship?
Andrea is unknowingly describing her relationship with Simon in attachment terms. She sees their relationship as useful to him, but not deeply, emotionally important. She meets Simon’s attachment needs by being there for him when he needs her, but doubts that she can count on him in return. This unreciprocated attachment causes her pain, which is feeding into a conflict loop with Simon.“Last year when I was really depressed for a month, he kind of disappeared on me. He had a great excuse, because he was studying for the bar.” Andrea sat in silence for a moment before adding, “I don’t know what will happen when he passes the exam and doesn’t need me for support anymore.”Historically, psychologists looking at Andrea’s situation might say her relationship problems are the result of her depression. But a still-small group of clinical researchers, including Johnson, are beginning to suspect the opposite — that her depression is the result of the chronically poor state of her attachments, beginning in childhood.Most of us don’t think about our mood as a barometer of our relationships, we don’t really notice how often depression and emotional disconnection travel together. But it surprises me how often, late in the therapy process, one partner will say to me something like, “I didn’t realize just how freaked out I was about losing her.”Reconnecting emotionally can have a powerful and lasting anti-depressant effect. And, according to Denton’s initial findings at least, these effects can persist long after treatment ends, which appeared not to be true for antidepressant medications administered without couple therapy.'News from neuroscience is confirming that any relationship, but especially a primary relationship, can be activated as a resource against the stresses of pain and fear.The application of therapeutic techniques for couples — like Johnson’s — based in attachment theory are demonstrating their effectiveness against a host of other emotional problems, including addiction and PTSD. Not only that, but clients like Andrea and Simon, as they explore together the deeper emotional currents of their attachment, often find that problems in other areas of life are less difficult to resolve, or at least less fearful and paralyzing.
The full article is here.